Holistic Thermal Stone Therapy aka Hot Stones Massage!

This weekend I have been learning how to massage with hot stones!

Basalt stones are heated up and due to their high iron and magnesium content they retain heat for a long time and then slowly release it.

Massage using these stones is a deeply relaxing and releasing treatment and it is said that one stroke using a warm basalt stone is the same as four or five strokes using the hands alone. It is a full body treatment, lasting 90 minutes and can have benefits on a physical, mental and energetical level.

I have ordered a set of basalt stones and a heater, which should be arriving this week, so I shall soon be able to offer this lovely treatment to my lovely clients!

No Pain, No Gain? Should Massage Hurt?

In my honest opinion the simple answer is no. No, massage shouldn’t hurt.

However, there is a smudgy grey area in between pleasure and pain.

Your massage shouldn’t have you gritting your teeth or clenching your knuckles or gripping onto the table for dear life.

Although if this is something you personally enjoy then carry on!

If your massage treatment turns into something you no longer enjoy or don’t look forward to, you need to tell your therapist to use less pressure, because we are not mind readers! We won’t be offended. Everybody likes a different pressure and if you don’t communicate your preferences the therapist won’t know that you’re not enjoying your massage.

On some occasions a massage may feel a little tender or a little uncomfortable, these feelings are ok. Sometimes if you have an old injury, or you’ve been carrying around muscle tension for a long time, there can be some scar tissue and knots in your muscles. These can feel a little uncomfortable when being massaged and it is to be expected. But this shouldn’t be painful.

There are also times when you might feel a little sore after your massage, sometimes into the next day. Again, this will usually be because of the breakdown of some scar tissue or long term adhesions within your muscles. Usually the soreness will disappear within 24-48 hours leaving you feeling better than you were originally. This soreness is likened to the soreness that comes from doing a new exercise routine (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness – DOMS).

In sports massage a lot of people think of the term “no pain, no gain”. I think this is a misleading saying. Yes there might be some uncomfortable moments that you need to get through to feel better, but there shouldn’t be pain. The same as exercise; you might feel uncomfortable and have to push yourself to finish, but there shouldn’t be pain. Pain would probably indicate an injury.

I believe massage should be healing, and most certainly allow you to relax in order for your body to do the hard work of repairing itself. And how can your body do that when you have to scrape yourself off the ceiling after a treatment?

Above all, massage should be an enjoyable experience and if you aren’t enjoying it then please let your therapist know.

This does go the other way as well, if you feel your therapist is being too gentle please also let them know!

Practice what you preach!

As part of the aftercare advice I give to my clients I usually advise to stay well hydrated and drink plenty!

There are so many articles on the internet telling you the benefits of staying hydrated I’m sure you don’t need another one.

But how about what happens when you don’t stay hydrated?

Recently I had a couple of days where I just forgot to drink, which is very unlike me!

I found myself feeling tired and lethargic, slightly confused and forgetful, my head was pounding the next morning. My skin felt dry and I looked tired, I felt achy and stiff and my mouth and throat were dry. My vision was a little blurry. I couldn’t stop yawning. I felt very congested and blocked, almost like I had a build up of dead energy and waste inside my body.

All of this was very easily remedied with a couple of pints of clear refreshing tap water. I felt rejuvenated, flushed through, cleansed and my mental clarity returned.

We are so lucky to have access to this rejuvenating source of energy, just at the turn of a tap. It’s so easy to get a hold of it that sometimes I take it for granted, or even forget it’s there.

So I thought I would write this little post as a reminder to myself that every time I tell a client to drink plenty and stay well hydrated I shall take a long swig of that clear stuff as well.

Cheers!

Card Machine

I’m pleased to let you know that my card machine arrived this morning. This means that I am now able to accept card payments!

Brain Body Connection

Did you know that your mental well-being/stress levels can have a physical effect on your body?

We all have a physical-mental connection even if we don’t know it or recognise it.

The physiological responses to stress (“fight and flight”) can include:

  • Your muscles tense up ready for action
  • Your breathing and heart rate quicken to pump blood and oxygen around your body quicker
  • Your digestive system will slow down; digestion isn’t a top priority for your body if you need to run away from danger
  • Your pupils dilate
  • Sweat glands activate
  • Blood is redirected away from your skin so you may look pale
  • You may get a dry mouth – again digestion isn’t a priority when you are stressed
  • Your immune system is supressed

Massage can have a de-stressing effect and reverse these actions. It can offer relief to people who are in physical pain or who have emotional stress and tension in their lives and bodies.

Tight Hip Flexors

If you spend a lot of time in a seated position (i.e desk job/driving) then it’s quite likely that you will have tight hip flexors.

These are the muscles responsible for bending at the thigh/hip. So if you are constantly sat with your hips bent these muscles will constantly be in a contracted and shortened position, so of course they will be tight!

I would recommend taking regular breaks and having a walk around and a stretch in an attempt to remedy this tightness, along with a regular massage of course!

The bottom picture below shows what a hip flexor stretch looks like.

In the top picture the models knee is line with her hip. If you have extremely tight hip flexors you may feel some stretch in this position, but as this is the position your hips would be in when you are standing you probably won’t be stretching your hip flexors very much.

It may remind you of the more commonly seen quad stretch, which is similar, but done in a standing position.

Only one of the quadriceps muscles crosses the hip joint (the rectus femoris) and this is why simply doing a quad stretch won’t quite target the correct area.

If you really want to target the hip flexors you must move your hip in front of your knee. This then takes your hips into extension, which is the position to best feel the stretch.

You can deepen this by lunging forward onto your front leg, pushing your hips forward and leaning backwards (from the hips) slightly. You can also intensify this by squeezing your bum muscles (gluteals).

Your gluteals are functionally opposite to your hip flexors and when one muscle contracts the opposing muscle must relax. This is called reciprocal inhibition.

If you would like further information regarding stretches I can provide this as part of the aftercare you receive at the end of a massage treatment.

Footprints In The Snow…

Check your footprints in the snow!

If your prints are particularly turned out (i.e. you walk like a duck!) it could indicate that you have a tight piriformis muscle.

Tightness in the piriformis muscle can put pressure on the sciatic nerve, which can cause back, buttock and leg pain. But, not to worry! A massage and a few stretches should help to remedy that!